Mindfullness in Remodeling


definition: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

Image courtesy from Dreamstime.com

Mindfulness is a word that has gone mainstream. Have you read about it? Similar to meditation, it requires one to simply pay attention to our present being, to our thoughts and feelings. The benefit of practicing mindfulness reduces stress and who doesn’t want that? Studies on mindfulness report a myriad of benefits in the physical, psychological and social arenas.

It occurred to me that mindfulness plays a very important role for clients in their design decision process.  Remodeling is stressful enough with the fuss and dust during a remodel so who wouldn’t want to benefit from a little stress reducing mindfulness practice during the design phase. I know, I know, some of you get bored looking at floor plans or picking materials.  I recognize that glazed over look during a design meeting from either the husband or wife, the one who really isn’t into selecting materials, but is dragged along anyways because they need to get the project done or just focused on the $ botton line. The last thing your Design Pro wants to hear from a client is “I didn’t think it would look like that.”  I really dislike hearing this, and when it does happen, it’s rare, but it does come up on occasion with a client who isn’t mindful and complains after the fact.

Buying a new kitchen is more complicated than buying a car or even a house because ultimately you get to choose all the materials and the details can be a bit overwhelming for some. While some dig right in and relish the thought of choosing between counter depth refrigerators and built-in’s or deciding between 12 shades of white, this process can numb others out.

For the most part clients who are remodeling are generally excited about it all. I love it when clients are engaged in the process, ask questions and really get into the design decisions. It makes for the best outcome.

The client I worry about is the one who isn’t mindful of the design decisions. Ordering materials that is in direct conflict with what they truly want is not the fault of your Design Pro. They are there to guide and explain, but ultimately when you select a material, your Design Pro is working on the assumption that this is what you are approving. It is a 100% certainty that the client who complains later about the outcome not meeting his desired look is the client who is not mindful during the design process. Whether it’s just RUSHING to get it done and blowing off the details or the single focus of BUDGET driving the decisions, if you let either of these two drivers, (1) rushing and (2) budget, get in the way of your vision, you will certainly be disappointed if you have not (a) resolved that you are buying materials not in alignment with your vision and (b) you have not communicated your true vision to your kitchen designer who is building in these details for the project. Mind readers we are not!

Having a budget or being on a tight deadline is not an issue for the Design Pro, as long as the client has come to terms that beer budget and champagne taste are truly not the same.

My Top 5 Mindfulness Techniques when working with a Kitchen & Bath Designer:

  1. Don’t rush the details. Commit the details to a plan. Give yourself time to understand the plan: the placement of your appliances, cabinets, switches, lighting, storage or whatever is important to you. Mindfulness Technique: Ask yourself what you want. 
  2. Ask questions. Is there anything you are not certain of? What is it made out of, what is the maintenance like, how big is it? I have been know to be the blue tape Queen, mapping out what the new space will look like on the floor for my clients. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the scale of your new kitchen through design drawings, renderings and if possible, actually plotting it out full scale with blue painter’s tape in the existing space.
  3. Compare the actual design to your vision. Whether it’s a vision committed to memory or a notebook of ideas, ask yourself if the plan drawn up by your Design Pro is jiving with your vision. Designer’s do not have a third eye or psychic ability to read minds although we try. We ask many questions and do our best to get to know you, your style, your family so we can best recommend solutions to fit your lifestyle. Mindfulness Technique: Be truthful with yourself about what you want and communicate that to your design pro.
  4. Avoid shortcuts. The #1 complaint I hear from people I talk to who have remodeled in the past is they wish didn’t compromise. If it means postponing a project until you can afford what you really want, do it. Use this time to plan and do it right later when you can afford it.
  5. Test it out. I live in a major metropolitan area where we have access to exciting showrooms that offer fully equipped live demonstration kitchens. I can send my clients to these showrooms for complete meal demonstrations so they can test out what it’s like cooking on these appliances. Also, check with your local appliance store for more information on when they offer appliance demonstration days. Ask about “After purchase consultations” where some brands actually have a dedicated person that will walk you through the features of your new appliances.

Above all else…be mindful of your choices. Remodeling is not for the faint of heart and mindfulness in remodeling will calm the body, it will decrease (your designer’s) stress as well as your own, it will cut your anxiety of your decisions, and it will create joyful emotions with the outcome.

And lastly your kitchen designer will thank you!

Posted in Computered Design Programs, Planning

InnoDraw: Digital Measuring Services for KBB showrooms

We’ve all been there, you or your company goes out to measure a job site, photographs the site, double check’s the measurements. However, when inputting the dimensions back at the office you realize you are missing a dimension or something does not add up requiring another trip back out to the job site. There is a service being offered, not nationwide yet, but well worth looking into. A digital measuring service will eliminate expensive measuring errors and CAD design-related costs are significantly reduced.

InnoDraw is a cutting edge Digital measuring service especially suited to the needs of the KBB market in the 21 Century. Customized software and extremely accurate laser measuring devices together with a strong service orientation, provide the ultimate solution for a variety of home improvement projects in the KBB market.

InnoDraw provides a win-win solution for designers, fabricators and their clients.

Compared to using fabricator’s own employees for templating:

  • Templating is now a job cost, not included in fixed overhead
  • The InnoDraw Measuring Specialist works with fabricators’ personnel to get the best value from the service
  • Save up to 40% or more in templating costs
  • Fabricator can work with InnoDraw Measuring Specialists in other locales, avoid long distance commutes and employees’ time

    Compared to mechanical and “stick” templating:
  • Light-weight and highly portable (everything packs into a small shoulder bag)
  • Less set-up time and on-site assembly
  • Measuring Specialist can complete all details on site thus eliminating additional steps in the shop and send directly to fabrication
  • Increased measuring accuracy (about 3/100” at 100’ plus)

InnoDraw  combines laser technology and powerful software together with many years of experience in  the most innovative measuring system available in this market.

Check out this real time video of a kitchen measure:

Posted in Cabinets, How to buy kitchen cabinets, NKBA, Planning, Return on Investment, The Cabinet Estimate, Working with a Kitchen Designer

Playing poker with your cabinet estimate: "How much is it gonna cost ?"

I am not a betting person but sometimes I wonder if I should take up poker since some client’s like to play it with me. Poker it seems is a game of not revealing your cards and is a game of chance, skill and never revealing your moves.

The problem with playing poker in remodeling is that it just doesn’t work this way if you want me to plan an estimate for you. “How much is it gonna cost me?” “How much do you want to spend?” I could bluff but that just wastes both your time and mine, doesn’t it? You can’t build your budget on a game of Texas Hold-em and I can’t plan a design for you unless I know your budget, pardner. Case in point: You want to buy cabinets from me and you want to know how much it’s gonna cost. You look at my corner 10 x 10 display and you ask how much would something like this cost in my kitchen? Well that’s like asking how much is a bag of groceries!

Estimating is time intensive and if you really want to know the truth, if you think you are getting a deal with getting someone to come out and give you a “free estimate” you just lost the game. Anytime someone says it’s a “free estimate” is playing poker with you. Chances are he is factoring his time into the cost of the project without revealing to you that the time to estimate, the drive time, the payroll expense to pay someone to layout the plans for your “free design” just upped the ante for him. He has to factor his time and labor into your cost. But not just your estimate, you are also paying for everyone else who asked for a free estimate with over all higher prices. Time is money, my friend, and no one is driving around town, spending time with each customer that calls for a free estimate and not building his costs into your estimate. If he isn’t, he won’t be in business  for long.

Do I want to play poker with clients? Nope, I am a straight shooter. I don’t like gambling with my customer’s time or money. I can provide you the option of a free estimate if you bring me your measurements and I can do a take off with preliminary numbers to get you in the ball park of price ranges. A free estimate won’t be accurate to the penny because I have not verified the dimensions my self. It will remain a ballpark range within 10-15% until the dimensions can be verified and the details of your “wish list” versus “must have” list” clarified by you.

If you are not comfortable with measuring your own kitchen, I can do that for you but I charge a measure fee for my time to come out to your house and take accurate measurements of the space and you will get accurate pricing. This is rebated back to you when you purchase my cabinets, which is a fair deal. If you don’t want to buy from me, you get a few rendered concept views and those are for you to keep.

All this makes sense until the customer who wants to have a Mexican Stand Off enters the picture. She wants a price, but won’t bring in dimensions of the kitchen and she won’t pay a measure fee for preliminary plans. She won’t pay the fee because she doesn’t know if she will like what she gets. It does not pay to play poker with a client because I cannot guess how much your kitchen is going to cost until we discuss what it is exactly you want in your kitchen and until I price it out. I cannot presume to know your taste and style without at least having a conversation with you. I have to see it or at the very least be provided pictures of kitchens you like and dimensions to estimate from.

Come on folks, this is like going to see your Cosmetic Surgeon and telling her you want your face to look younger but you are not willing to reveal what part of the face you want worked on and how much you want to spend. A brow lift, a facial peel, a face lift, remove the bags under your eyes, remove the jowels, it all adds up. What do you want to do?

Likewise you can’t go to a Realtor and say “I want to buy a house” and escorted to several homes for sale without knowing what your price range is.  Kitchens, like houses, like cars, like anything you want to buy are available in several different prices ranges. If you cannot reveal honestly what your investment can be, your service provider will not be able to provide you the best service or the best value for the money without these basic facts to work from. Mostly, I want to provide my clients a project and a product they are satisfied with. To do this well, communication is essential and this is no place for a game of poker with your wants and needs.

Also, if a client tells me she doesn’t need a design, she just needs to order cabinets, you can’t place an order for cabinets without a plan. A plan involves a design, a design involves exact dimensions, dimensions require accuracy and if I am responsible for your order, I need to be the one measuring for those cabinets. I suppose you can simply go to your local big box store and place your order with the order takers, but then you are responsible for your dimensions. I prefer not to be an order taker.  

Getting an accurate design and paying a Professional Kitchen Designer will save you money in the long run. You can retain a Kitchen Designer to provide you a space plan so that you can get competitive bids from contractors or you may get a great price from that Kitchen Designer and buy from her. Whichever the case may be for you, working with a Kitchen Designer will add value to your project. Contractors will thank you for having detailed plans to bid from, as this saves them time knowing what the details are for your project in advance. There are too many details in cabinet design for a contractor to keep up with or even care about. Most contractors will advise clients to get their cabinets planned out and provide them a copy of the plans. A kitchen designer will be able to best advise on cabinetry, counter tops, lighting, flooring, best use of space layout, seating arrangements, appliances, storage solutions and so much more. Furthermore, an experienced designer that specializes in Kitchen Design will save you from the headaches of not pre-planning the details and not having the materials on the job when the contractor needs them. You can find a Professional Kitchen Designer by searching the National Kitchen and Bath Association website, NKBA.org.

How much is it going to cost? Moreover, how much will you save by retaining expert advice? 

photo credit1: http://flickr.com/photos/latitudes/66492870/in/set-1442169/
photo credit2:   Clint Eastwood, The Man With No Name

Posted in Happenings around the Blog, Managing Expectations, Planning, Surviving A Remodel, Working with a Contractor, Working with a Kitchen Designer

A Renovation Check List

Getting ready to remodel? I will point my readers in the direction of a “MUST READ” article posted by my friend Paul Anater of Kitchen and Residential Design about renovation expectations. I too have received the phone calls from clients who are in a state of panic over the tile going up, the color of the cabinets, the floor, the paint and so forth. Paul has made sane points, so with no further ado, I point you to Ready To Renovate? Take A Moment And Breathe First.

I highly recommend you print out these “10 Points of Reason ” when you feel like you are going to loose your mind. Print it, post it where you can see it, your bathroom mirror, outside the plastic wall of your remodel zone, your check book.

Remind yourself that long after the remodel is over with, the dust and muss is gone, what remains is a beautiful space. And above all else, remind yourself to breathe! Thanks Paul!

Posted in Consumer Research, New I Phone App, Planning, Style Notes, Who Knew

A new design app for your phone.

Who knew that phones would be able to do so much? Now you can have a personal design assistant right at your fingertips. Created by interior designer Mark Lewison, Mark On Call™ for the Apple® iPhone and iPod Touch, lets the interior design professional, their clients—and do-it-yourselfers alike—plan, preview and carry out their design visions while staying organized and within budget.

So many convenient apps, I may have to say goodbye to my crackberry.

Posted in Choosing a Designer, Discount Remodeling, Kitchens Don'ts, Managing Expectations, Planning, Remodeling Contracts, Working with a Contractor, Working with a Kitchen Designer

Asking for a discount:: How not to do it.

Kelly at KitchenSync posted this first, and she found it at another site. Spreading fast through the internet; I had to revisit this You Tube Video again for grins. Haven’t we all been there with clients? There are better ways to negotiate price. This video is a prime example of what not to do.

There are ways to save money so be up front about it. Your service provider will appreciate your honesty if you are up front about your budget and be able to look for ways to save you money. Looking for angles to get a discount after the fact is just bad behavior.

Posted in Bathroom Faucets, Lavatory sinks, Planning, Plumbing, Sinks, Working with a Kitchen Designer

Lead times: How soon do you need it?

There are times when I scratch my head in disbelief when do-it yourself remodeling types do not plan out the project details. Here is my “fly-on-the-wall” experience with a moral at the end of the story.

This weekend I was in a plumbing store with a client, helping with her plumbing selections for an upcoming project. What happened next placed me in a suspended state of disbelief.

A lovely woman walked into the store and explained she needed a lavatory sink and faucet and another faucet for the kitchen. Nothing too unusual about that.
The sales person proceeded to ask the customer the usual questions:
S: Are you looking for a self-rimming sink or under-mount?
C: Self-rimming.

S: Ok. Do you have a preference for wide-spread faucet or single faucet mounted on the deck of the sink or on the counter?” Do you know what your new counter surface will be yet?

C: New granite top. White self-rimming sink. Single hole faucet style mounted on the sink

S: Ok, great we have several options we can look at.”

S: Next, is this for new cabinetry or are you replacing an existing sink and counter and keeping the cabinets?

C: Existing.

S: Alright, do you know what are the existing sink dimensions?

S: “‘What’s that? your existing cabinet is 15 1/2″ front to back?” What’s that? Oh, It’s for your boat?
Oh, I see. Hmm, would you mind if I made a suggestion for an undermount with the single faucet mounted on the rear left or right and not centered. Or we could look at some stainless steel bar sinks that could work. Self rimming sinks with a faucet mounted on the porcelain are just not made that small. We can check the catalogs, but I am pretty sure it is a tall order to fill, I can think of two or three small sinks that may work.

C: No, no, we have that style now, and I really don’t like it at all. I really want to change the style.

S: “How soon do you need it?”

“I am running out of time, I have the granite fabricator coming this Monday and need to get this done today.”

When the customer said she needed it by Monday, the salesperson could have been a deer struck in headlights. That was Saturday with a customer looking for a specialty item she could take with her or have by Monday.

There was a line of people needing help and this customer insisted on going through all the catalogs to prove to herself that the salesperson indeed did not have a sink in stock that met her requirements.

Ideally, when planning a remodel, the cardinal rule is to plan in advance to have all the components on site or in stock ready to ship to you.

Lead times: Not all plumbing stores stock inventory. The specialty plumbing stores carry thousands of models from the plumbing manufacturers they buy from and most will have a lead time from as short as two weeks and as long as 6 weeks for special order items. Chances are, unless you walk into a big box store with product on the shelf ready to buy, there is little chance you will be able to walk away with it the same day.

Check ahead: Not all competing stores carry the same stock. One store may stock Kohler and another down the street may stock Grohe. Call in advance, save yourself the aggravation and wasting gas and time driving all over town. Ask the store manager or head of the dept. what brands they stock or that you can get within the week. Sales people should be able to help you over the phone with these basic questions. Check with your plumber where he buys from. Industry insiders are the best people to ask.

Getting the best service: Don’t abuse a salesperson’s time on the phone. Yes, that’s right. To get the best service and best price keep your questions over the phone, simple and direct. Most will not be able to quote prices, but will be able to take care of your general questions. Ask your salesperson what’s the best time to come in. They want your business, but if you need more handholding in product selection and need to look at every catalog and get a price on multiple styles, showing up during prime time hours means they have to hustle to take care of several customers and cannot focus on you alone. Most salespeople are knowledgeable and want to help. If you find yourself in a busy showroom, write down model #’s. Tell the salesperson you are working on a large project and have several things you need to order. Ask if they can fax or email a quote back to you. If you are willing to be flexible, you can get a lot more in the way of service and probably a better price.

Unfortunately, waiting till the final hour before the plumber arrives, can lead to some very unhappy compromises in your selections.

Better idea yet, if your request is for the unusual and your taste is very selective, your best value is hiring a designer to begin with. A designer has the capability of sourcing out custom features and will be able to recommend the best showrooms to find product. In addition, a designer may be able to recommend a much more efficient floor plan, so that you are not at the mercy of unusual dimensions.

There was more delays in her selection process. Most all the faucets had a red and blue dot indicating hot and cold and she needed one that did not have that. A few more customers came and went, not able to stick it out waiting for service. While the salesperson, (poor chap- he did the best he could in the limited amount of time he had), went off to assist another customer, I felt a little sorry for this lady’s predicament. I whispered quietly to the lady looking for the unusual sink, “that is a very uncommon sink, have you tried a specialty plumbing supplier that carries sinks for marine and rv equipment?”

Answer: “Oh, I didn’t think of that! I had no idea it would be so difficult.”

Moral of the story: When you fail to plan, plan to fail.